DISTRIBUTION: Widespread throughout New Zealand, except on the Canterbury Plains, with the main populations in Northland. This bird also lives wild on the Chatham Islands and Lord Howe Island.
HABITAT: Paradise Shellducks prefer grazed pasture. However, they also live on the flats of gravel streams and waterways. Breeding pairs are usually found on stock ponds with an open aspect.
BREEDING: They first breed in their second or third year. Once paired they will remain together for life. The breeding season starts around August. Nests are usually hollows in the ground, thickly covered in long grass and bush. 8-12 white eggs are laid and are incubated for 30-32 days.
FOOD: Their main diet comprises of seeds, grain, insects, and clover shoots when available.
VOICE: Persistently noisy. A piercing, monosyllabic flock call by both sexes. The males also do a goose-like honk when threatened.
GENERAL: Shellducks are mid-way between a duck and a goose. The male has a black head, neck, rump and tail. His breast is slightly paler with speckled yellow, and he has a chestnut under tail. The female has a white head and neck. Her breast, belly and under-tail are bright chestnut and her rump and tail are black.